SGO Issues

SGO Issues Nov. 9, 2017

Capitol Hill Fly-in Day increases awareness of clinical trials, research funding
CMS releases 2018 Final Quality Payment Program Rules
SGO surgeons, staff make top 5 for Race to End Women’s Cancer
NCCN Guidelines updated for cervical and uterine cancers
NCI announces release of Cancer Moonshot opportunities
Call for volunteers for SGO committees and taskforces

Capitol Hill Fly-in Day increases awareness of clinical trials, research funding

Patient advocate Dee Sparacio with Ginger Gardner, MD, during Capitol Hill Fly-in Day.

Twenty-two SGO Ambassadors and patient advocates “Hit the Hill” for the 2017 Capitol Hill Fly-in Day in Washington, DC, on Nov. 3, meeting with more than 60 Members of Congress’s Offices in one day. The participants provided general education on gynecologic cancers. The participants highlighted the importance of increased funding of gynecologic cancer clinical trials as well as the need for the preservation of the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) at the Department of Defense, while establishing a personal connection for long-term relationships between Congress and the SGO.

The DOD funds represent $20 million per year toward innovative ovarian cancer research. “With only six percent administrative overhead costs, this streamlined funding mechanism is a crown jewel of our basic and translational science support,” said Ginger Gardner, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “Investigators from the SGO that receive this funding are often doing innovative work that can mature to clinical use.”

NIH funding represents approximately $100 million per year and supports funding for cooperative group clinical trials. There has been a 90 percent decrease in Phase 3 NIH-supported cooperative group clinical trials in gynecologic cancer over the last 5 years. “Now with new leadership at the NCI, the Congressional visits bring forward the opportunity to prioritize GYN cancers in upcoming budget discussions,” she added.

SGO members who participated in the 2017 Capitol Hill Fly-in Day included:

  • Rebecca Arend, MD
  • Carol Brown, MD
  • Joshua Cohen, MD
  • Matt Carlson, MD
  • John Farley, MD
  • Ginger Gardner, MD
  • Monica Jones, MD
  • David Kushner, MD
  • Kathleen Moore, MD
  • Emily Prendergast, MD
  • Laurel Rice, MD
  • Joan Walker, MD
  • Stephanie Wethington, MD
  • Juliet Wolford, MD

SGO President Dr. Rice noted that the Capitol Hill visits are part of a multipronged approach focused on increasing the availability of, and enrollment in, clinical trials. This expanded platform includes:

  • Enhancing public/private partnerships in the research arena
  • Increasing communication efforts: Develop SGO’s voice for patients, physicians, advocates, US government (mandate) and philanthropy
  • Increasing advocacy efforts: Build a united advocacy platform with the ability to have a common voice around gynecologic oncology clinical trials
  • Increasing the pipeline of Junior Investigators committed to conducting clinical trials
  • Expanding the SGO’s Ambassador Program

“All of our work over the last 15 months is beginning to pay off and things are looking up,” said Dr. Rice. “There are several new NCI-supported clinical trials that are in the works as a result of the endometrial clinical trials planning meeting. There will be a clinical trials planning meeting in 2018 to address the need in cervical cancers and another for ovarian cancers being talked about for the following year.”

Dr. Rice added that Elise C. Kohn, MD, Head of Gynecologic Cancer Therapeutics at the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program has been very supportive of these efforts.

“This was a successful day,” said Dr. Gardner, who visited the offices of Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

“Clearly there were information gaps that were addressed, and the SGO effectively raised awareness regarding the concerning trend of decreased funding for GYN cancer research,” said Dr. Gardner. “The communication on SGO Fly-In day was targeted to increase both NIH funding and preserve DoD funding for GYN cancers.”

Dr. Wethington remarked that there was progress made during her Capitol Hill visits. “The day felt tremendously productive,” she said. “Some meetings were about educating a staffer [new hire or someone with a broad portfolio] who did not have familiarity with gynecologic cancers and the clinical trials crisis. Other sessions were more social, a staffer who knew the issues and was more interested in building a connection for future collaboration.”

Dr. Stephanie Wethington of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore visited the offices of Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Reps. John Sarbanes (D-MD), David Price (D-NC), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

After visiting the offices of Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and Reps. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Dr. John Farley from St. Joseph’s Hospital And Medical Center in Phoenix, AZ, observed that most of the staffers he spoke to were interested in preserving or increasing GYN cancer funding.

One of the “asks” that Dr. Farley and other ambassadors included in their visits was requesting that the legislators speak with the leadership of the Armed Services Committee to urge them not to include Sections 733, 891, 892, and 893 in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 because those sections would end the OCRP.

Like many of the SGO ambassadors, Dr. Joan Walker from Stephenson Cancer Center in Oklahoma City asked her elected officials to consider arranging a meeting with new National Cancer Institute Director Norman “Ned” Sharpless, MD. The focus of this meeting would be to learn more about preserving gynecologic clinical trials and avoiding persistent cuts to the NCI Cancer Therapy Evaluation Program and Division of Cancer Prevention clinical trials., Both of these efforts bring cutting-edge research to the care of our patients.

Dr. Walker visited the offices of Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Reps. Steve Russell (R-OK), John Carter (R-TX), and Tom Cole (R-OK).

Follow-up steps for the SGO ambassadors involve attending the December Energy and Commerce Committee Hearing on 21st Century CURES Oversight. In addition, follow-up with Women’s Caucus of Congress is planned regarding the opportunity to convene a summit to support the education of young investigators and clinical trialists, especially to support those with an interest in gynecologic cancers.

CMS releases 2018 Final Quality Payment Program Rules

On Nov. 2, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule for the 2018 Physician Fee Schedule and final rule with comment period for the Quality Payment Program (QPP). Highlights of the QPP final rule include a 12-month reporting period on quality and a 60 percent completeness threshold for measures reported. CMS will also be increasing the exemption amounts and it finalized bonus points for small and rural practices. CMS also decided to add the cost component back into the program at 10 percent of the Merit-based Incentive Payment System final score for 2020 payments.

The full Quality Payment Program document for Year 2 is available online. Related documents include:

SGO surgeons, staff make top 5 for Race to End Women’s Cancer

2017 SGO Surgeons Team

A morning of misty rain did not dampen the spirits of the survivors, supporters, surgeons and SGO staff members who participated in the 8th National Race to End Women’s Cancer, held on Nov. 5 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. With more than 100 race teams and over 1,900 donors participating in person or virtually, both the SGO Surgeons Team and the SGO/FWC Staff Team Amy’s Avengers surpassed their fundraising goals and ended up in the Top 5 Fundraising Teams for the event. Both SGO teams raised a combined total of $22,117 to date, and the Foundation has raised $390,501 towards its $500,000 goal for the Race, with donations still being accepted through Dec. 31.

Currently, the top five fundraising teams are as follows:

  1. Wendy’s Warriors ($24,754 of $20,000 goal)
  2. Camille’s Crusaders ($14,025 of $30,000 goal)
  3. FWC/SGO Amy’s Avengers ($11,222 of $5,000 goal)
  4. Surgeons Team ($10,895 of $10,000 goal)
  5. Team Joyful Cancer Warrior ($10,855 of $10,000 goal)

The Male Surgeon Winner was Robert Giuntoli, MD, and the Female Surgeon Winner was Thu Tran, MD. A full listing of the Race participants and their times is available on the Race website.

The Foundation’s 9th National Race to End Women’s Cancer event is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018.

NCCN Guidelines updated for cervical and uterine cancers

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) has published updates to the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), the NCCN Drugs and Biologics Compendium (NCCN Compendium®), the NCCN Imaging Appropriate Use Criteria (NCCN Imaging AUC™) for Cervical Cancer, and the NCCN Imaging AUC™ for Uterine Neoplasms. These NCCN Guidelines are currently available as Version 1.2018.

NCI announces release of Cancer Moonshot opportunities

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has announced the release of 17 new Cancer Moonshot funding opportunities. These funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) highlight initiatives that align with efforts of the Cancer Moonshot to accelerate research and make more therapies available to patients, while also improving the ability to prevent cancer and detect it at an early stage. More information about these opportunities is available online.

Call for volunteers for SGO committees and taskforces

SGO is seeking volunteers to serve on committees and taskforces for the 2018 program year. The committees and taskforces will serve a joint purpose for the SGO and the Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC). The duration of a committee/taskforce appointment is generally two years with the option for reappointment. Interested members can review the committee/taskforce descriptions and submit the 2018 Committee Volunteer Form by 11:59 p.m. CT Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

The SGO President Elect I will review all committee volunteer submissions and committee Chair recommendations by the end of the fiscal year (Dec. 31) and finalize all committee appointments. All applicants will be notified of the appointment outcomes within 30 days of the finalized committee appointments.